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Senegalese Democratic Party pushes to postpone presidential election

By Diadie Ba and Bate Felix

DAKAR (Reuters) -The Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) on Friday said it requested the postponement of the Feb. 25 presidential election via a bill submitted to parliament, citing incidents it alleged had compromised the transparency and integrity of the vote.

A postponement of the presidential poll would be unprecedented for Senegal, which has seen four largely peaceful transitions of power via the ballot box since independence from France in 1960.

PDS, the former ruling party of ex-President Abdoulaye Wade, did not propose a new date for the election.

Its candidate, Wade's son Karim, was disqualified from the race to succeed President Macky Sall. The constitutional court ruled Wade was a dual citizen when he submitted his candidacy and therefore ineligible.

In a statement, PDS listed concerns with the constitutional court's decision-making, the elimination of candidates and other issues that it said had derailed the race.

The push for a later vote "is part of our desire to preserve the integrity and transparency of the process," it said.

It was not immediately clear how this proposed bill would be handled by parliament. The ruling coalition, which does not include PDS, has a majority of just one in the 165-seat house.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks over the constitutional council's decision to exclude prominent contenders such as Wade and opposition firebrand Ousmane Sonko from the running. They say the rules for candidacy were not applied fairly.

"This bill will repair the damage suffered by more than 40 candidates dismissed from the presidential election," said Karim Wade on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"I ask the activists of the PDS, our allies and the millions of Senegalese who are fighting by my side to support this postponement."

With little over three weeks until the vote, the race was complicated further on Friday by reports candidate Rose Wardini was in police custody, although she is not considered a frontrunner among the 20 candidates.

Former Dakar mayor and Wardini's sister, Soham Wardini, confirmed her sibling was being held but did not give further details.

(Additional reporting by Portia Crowe; Writing by Alessandra PrenticeEditing by Diane Craft and Cynthia Osterman)